According to data from the Independent Monitoring Board, one immigration detainee was held at for three and a half years before bailed on temporary release at the centre designed for temporary stays prior to removal or deportation from the UK.
The Yarl’s Wood website shows a customer friendly picture of a smiling Centre Manager making the following reassuring statement:
“Caring and supporting those held in Detention at Yarl’s Wood is at the forefront of all our policies, procedures and actions” Norman Abusin, Centre Manager, Yarl’s Wood.
The IMB’s Annual Report for 2013 revealed that, whilst the majority of women were held for 30 days or less, a worrying number were detained for much longer periods.
Migrants can be detained for extended periods whilst their cases are being considered by the Home Office or awaiting Tribunal appeals or appeals to higher courts.
Yarl’s Wood is effectively a type of prison run by a private company, SERCO, for the Home Office.
Like any prison, the management has no influence over the outcome of an overstaying migrant’s appeal against a visa refusal or Home Office decision, so if people are detained for any length of time it is the immigration system that is failing.
The complaint put forward in the report is as ludicrous as the governor of a prison deciding to release a few convicts because they have been detained for a long time!
The reports said that at least six female detainees were held for more than a year and three for more than eighteen months. Again, the detention of a migrant, in most cases for overstaying a visa, would have been pending the outcome of an appeal to remain in the UK – at the end of the day, people are free to leave the UK at any time.
Bedfordshire News reports that last month a UN special rapporteur claimed she was 'blocked' from visiting the immigration detention centre on a recent trip to the UK.
Rashida Manjoo began her investigation on 31 March, the day after Jamaican Christine Case, 40, died inside Yarl's Wood. At the time a high-profile campaign failed to prevent teenage student Yashika Bageerathi being deported from the UK to Mauritius days later.
Once again, deportation decisions are made by the Secretary of State or Home Office and the outcome or a legal challenge or appeal against removal from the UK by the courts, not Yarl’s Wood or SERCO.
We have dealt with many appeals for overstayers, who have normally been detained after being picked up by immigration officers, and the cases are very sad. Families and partners are often torn apart and people who just want to work are deported while violent convicted criminals are allowed by appeal judges to stay in the UK and given indefinite leave to remain.
To end on a happier note, in one appeal case, our student client - who was in a relationship with an EEA national - was literally taken off a deportation flight to Nigeria minutes before take off! That was far too close for comfort! Anyway, must dash...just off to take a friend's Daughter to Wembley to see One Direction! Wish me luck.
If you need advice on any immigration matter, including overstaying your visa, EU or UK immigration law, or want to appeal against a refusal, call Cynthia Barker on 07850 307687 or 0208 731 5972 or email her your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cynthia Barker is a qualified OISC Registered Immigration Adviser, with 15 years experience in immigration matters, with a team of Level 3 Immigration Law Practitioners, Concept Care Solutions, Middlesex House, 29-45 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7UU.